Nutria, the Godzilla of Rodents!

Nutria

Coming to a Delta slough near you??! Nutria, once eradicated in California, are making a comeback.

They are kind of cute, except for their ability to eat through a wetlands in record speed, or their penchant for burrowing and destabilizing levees.

These South American rodents usually weigh 20 pounds and outcompete the native muskrat and beaver for food. Plus they are champion breeders. You can identify them by their white whiskers.

The Delta Conservancy just gave CDFW a $1M+ grant for surveillance and eradication efforts to keep them out of the Delta. If you see them anywhere in the state, please report them to:

Suspected observations or potential signs of nutria in California should be photographed and immediately reported to CDFW ONLINE, by email to Invasives@wildlife.ca.gov, or by calling (866) 440-9530. Observations on state or federal lands should be immediately reported to local agency staff. If this species is captured, do not release it, immediately contact your local CDFW office or County Agricultural Commissioner.

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Creating cuisine from invasive species

One of the stressors to the ecosystem in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are invasive species, introduced plants and animals that crowd out native species.  This problem is not unique to the Delta. Almost every part of the settled earth struggles with this because it is primarily people in their infinite wisdom who introduce these plants or animals. When I was in Portland I read how the local chefs participated in a challenge to create dishes using the invasive species found in the Columbia River.

Chinese mitten crab

Chinese mitten crab

I forgot about it until I recently read this story in Grist about a sushi chef in Connecticut who is using invasive species to replace diminishing bluefin tuna.

Could we do the same with Delta invasives?

Water hyacinth salad?

Mitten crab cakes?

Check out the complete list of invasive species in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for more potential cuisine.